‘The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them…’
A series of suspicious packages containing potential explosives set off a wave of panic Wednesday after the Secret Service reported intercepting devices addressed to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and CNN reported an apparent third sent to its Manhattan building, prompting evacuation.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said authorities suspect at least two of the devices were made and sent by the same person or persons. The officials described an aggressive “full court press” to identify and capture the suspects.
Authorities have stepped up screening of other people who could be targets, the official added.
The motive was not immediately clear. CNN anchors, speaking live from cellphones outside their bureau at the Time Warner Center, described an evacuation of a New York landmark that disrupted traffic and drew the New York Police Department’s bomb squad.
The White House sent a statement after initial reports naming Clinton and Obama, before the third device was reported.
“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”
The Secret Service said the package addressed to Obama in Washington D.C. and Clinton in Westchester County, N.Y. were identified late Tuesday and early Wednesday, respectively, by Secret Service personnel “during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such.”
“Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location,” according to the statement from Mason Brayman, assistant special agent in charge with United States Secret Service. “The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”
“The Secret Service has initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible,” Brayman said.
George Soros, the wealthy backer of liberal causes, was also targeted Tuesday with a hand-delivered pipe bomb at his New York home, according to media reports citing law enforcement sources.
It was unclear if that device was related to the others.
©2018 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.